Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My son's second bottom

Oh, boy. Here we go. My son's life has definitely hit an all-time low. I feel so bad for him, and yet I still see this had to happen.

My son is getting kicked out of his apartment.  He got served ten days ago, but didn't take seriously that he had five days in which to respond. We kept telling him to handle it, but he didn't.  That's how my son rolls-- what I see in him is that when life gets really hard, he curls up into a ball.  He can't face it.  Oh, he talks tough, but he's not a violent person in any way.  It's what one of his traits that I know and love.

He finally caught the apartment manager (and the office is rarely open, as it should be).  He explained his situation, and he has paid his share of the rent. Bottom line, he has until the 14th to get out of his apartment...maybe less. My son was told that the sheriff would come to remove him.   He finally went to see an attorney, who is a good friend of his dad's.  The attorney told me that since he missed the five day window to respond, he has no defense.  His roommate-- who split on him, and is on the lease-- basically gets away with it.  His former roommate is nowhere to be found  So my son is left holding the $2000.00 debt, and his credit is ruined for seven years.  He won't be able to rent from any kind of apartment or house landlord for quite some time. Worse, there is a law-- and I think it's all wrong-- that people are being denied a job, when a credit check is done and it comes up bad. Employers think you might steal...Don't even get me started on that one!  My son can pay the apartment manager $2000.00, and all is forgiven.  He doesn't have it, and neither do I. Besides, I have no intention of paying his former friend/roommate's share of back rent. No way!

In some ways, I see this as a good thing. I know this sounds weird, because my son is sitting in his car and he is crying.  His car-- $2,000 later-- still doesn't run. It's spewing oil and overheating. It just might be dead, and now he's really screwed. No home. No transportation.  But sometimes, it is through our pain that we can learn.  Maybe my son will understand that when you ignore the responsibilities of life, that this is what happens. Life is very real, and the law is the law.

What is there to do?

I told my husband, and I know he's not happy about having my son come home. I understand that, given all that he put us through.

But what should I do?  He's sober, because of methadone.  Living here, without a car, will be a major problem for my son.  We live in the suburbs-- no city buses, no taxis and definitely not walking distance. Bicycle would be like the Tour de France, where we live.

I need to pray and think....

I feel so bad for my son. But, if we backtrack, he had to leave because of drugs.  He moved in with someone he used with....who made B's life a living hell. Ultimately, that drug addict/alcoholic left my son holding the bag.  There ya go.

I'm on hold-- I have to think.  I need to figure out what defines helping and enabling. I do feel bad for him, because he really is trying.

Bottom sucks.  Been there, years ago-- different circumstances, but I do know that feeling of despair.  My protectiveness is coming out... so I need to go, and think and pray.  Letting my son move back in will start a whole new chapter-- and it will definitely compromise my tranquil marriage to his stepdad. I need wisdom... God's wisdom.


Dad and Mom said...


Hand up or Hand out?

Enabling his addiction or helping with his recovery?

I don't know what the real answers are and they could be different for different people but I am sitting here considering how I would handle the situation.

First I am thinking of questions. Does he have a disease? Is he in treatment for this disease? Is there progress day to day week to week? Could he have done things different? Does he have the life skills to effect different outcomes? Is he reaching his hand out for help? Is he expecting someone to catch his fall? Do you want to punish him for what he has done or is doing? Are you and hubby's expectations fair?

When I start thinking about these questions of course the answers come with tons of "what if's" and "but that". Only you can answer for yourself and it all comes down to doing whatever you do and hoping you "cause no harm".

B has a disease and he is in treatment. What has to be done to continue his treatment? I sometimes think what if Alex had a different disease, diabetes, cancer or something, refused to treat his disease and still ate candy and doughnuts and drank liquor. What would I do if he had diabetes and refused to treat it. I'm not going to watch you die you need to go someplace else. What if had a disease and was doing whatever he could do with what he knew to treat his disease, my hand would be out to help him.

We know addicts miss a tremendous amount of maturing when they begin using. I have to remind myself I am the father to a 22 year old son, with the maturity level of maybe 16. I am constantly angry about that and I really don't know how to treat a 16 year old boy, never really had one, all I had was a 16 year old addict. I have to work through it too. If I expect something from him that he does not have to give it is my problem not his.

Am I doing this at my espense or to his benefit? Who pays the price? What's the return? What's the downside, what's the upside?

When I talk to Alex about helping he often only see one solution. I sometimes can see alternatives but have a very difficult time communicating that there is more than one solution. One thing I have learned in life, hopelessly crying in his car has never and will never find a solution. B needs help.

My experience is "home" is a bad place for my son. He needs to be away but where and how?

I've read your post a half dozen times and read my comment just as many. I cannot seem to put it in a better way or organize my comment. I am just skipping around because the situation is so complex. I know, been down this road myself.

To me tough love is a part of an overall strategy, it cannot be your only strategy. I have two daughters without any addiction issues. We help them with a lot of stuff, financially and morally. Why is it so complicated to try and help same way for our son?

BTW, I am not stuggling with this right now with Alex, he has relapsed. I wish I was helping with his recovery, but my last comment to him was "When you want it come to me until then stay out of my life, I will not watch you die."

Cheri said...


Dad has made some valid points to consider, and you and God are the only ones who can truly determine the best way to handle this situation. Wayne and I are sending out a prayer request to our prayer partners for your family, for God's wisdom and guidance in this situation.

Hang in there,

LisaC said...

The family counselor that runs the family groups at BMC, where my son detoxed and did "intensive out patient treatment" twice, has always advised...helping during recovery is definitely not the same as enabling during addiction. That is why our boundaries can and should change when the situation changes.

As Ron says, this is such a personal decision; and the pain our "children" have caused us during active addiction takes a long time to get over. The trust that we gave them implicitly as our children which they tromped all over, is very very difficult for us to give back to them.

So, for what it is worth, what I hear in your posts is that you see positive changes in B. He is managing his life (as best he can), and he is not turning back to drugs, simply because the going has gotten tough. I also agree with Ron's comment that our expectations of them to act as adults is somewhat unrealistic on our part...just because they look like adults, they are not. Yes, B will continue to mature while off drugs (and it seems that he is), but it takes time, like everything else. He has catching up to do.

I can't tell you to let him move back in your house. But maybe, if you and your husband sit down and say, "What will we accept if he lives here? What are the boundaries?" Write them down and share them with B...if he can't/won't follow them, then he doesn't come home, but maybe if he can/will, you and your husband will really be assisting during recovery. And to me, anything that keeps recovery going is a plus for you, your husband and B.

It is a huge decision and I understand that you need to think, pray, reflect, pray some more and come to a conclusion that you can all live with. And whatever you decide to do for B, know deep down in your heart, that you are truly making that decision out of love.

Debby of Oxycontin and Opiate Addiction: A Mother's Story said...

I just returned home, from giving B a ride to work. His car isn't running right. Returning to the first three comments has given me more support and great advice than I could have asked for... come to think of it, I didn't ask for advice!
Ron-- you are so right. My son needs a hand up. Lisa, yes, my son needs help with his recovery. Cheri, thank you for the prayers. You know how I believe in them.
To be totally honest, my son is so heart broken. I bought him a sandwich, some drinks and candy (for his low blood sugars from his diabetes). This very mother, in some ways, is looking forward to having her son home for a while.
My son and I had a good talk, and I will share that later on. The biggest obstacle, I told my son, is my husband. C is not thrilled about this-- and I can't say that I blame him. This is not his own flesh and blood. While he loves B's mom (that's me) and he's a wonderful and kind person-- my son disappoints him. Ron, I'm going to share what you wrote with C. I am hoping my husband can understand that he can't be responsible at 21... especially after five years of drug use. I honest believe, with my heart and my soul, that my son does NOT want to use. I think he's suffered enough days without food, money and the drama that his former drug friends brought into his life.

I want my son home-- long enough to get him financially back on his feet. I will write a contract, and there will be rules. He will pay me rent, but a percentage of it will go into a savings towards a room for rent. Six months... that's the maximum time I'm setting.

Now.,, let's see what my husband has to say. He's the one who has the final say.

Tom at Recovery Helpdesk said...

I agree with the comments/advice you have gotten so far. I don't know if bringing your son home is the right decision for you and your family...it's a very personal decision. But there would be nothing wrong with choosing to let your son come home for a while.

You might think about offering to settle the debt with the landlord...offer $500, for example. The landlord is unlikely to ever see the $2,000 and may prefer $500 in hand (and the agreement would be this is satisfaction of the debt in full, the landlord agrees to let your son out of the lease and no negative reporting to the credit agencies). Could he sell the car for $500? It might be the best use of the car which sounds like a money pit too!

Glad the recovery side is going well!

Diane said...

I am thinking, don't just charge him rent, but charge him a little extra (the average he was putting out on food a month) since he will be eating your food again.

I agree with Tom, sell the car. It's more stress and wasted money.

Angelo said...

Is there a shelter nearby he can stay at? What about the Slavation Army? They have a live in program. If you do decide for him to live with you temprally, I know you know that boundries and very strict rules need to be meet including taking his medication the way he is suppose to (diabetic meds) and eating right the way he is suppose to. I see it that if he moves in that you got him right where you want him. What I mean by that is he will be extremely grateful that he pretty much will do anything. So this is where you make him learn his responsibilities. he will need to be handling his business like he is suppose to or he knows he is out so B will do whatever you tell him like eat the right foods for his diabetes an pay bills on time etc.
I'm scared that if B has no place to go he will move in with people that are using because they want money and he'll have rent money. Just some suggestions. At least B is clean and this is great.


Cheri said...

Just for my two cents, I think letting B come home will be a good thing, as long as you have a plan. If things are open-ended, then there will most likely be problems; but with a plan, one arrived at through prayer and agreement with your husband, one you stick to, God can work incredible changes in all hearts involved.

Keeping you in prayer!
Cheri and Wayne